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March 16, 2005

Alternative Plans

Dear Alternatives:

The Chief Financial Officer’s final report on his evaluation of the alternative plans for financing the baseball stadium, along with the accompanying press release, presentation, and summary table of all the plans, is now available online at I’ll post a copy on the DCWatch web site as soon as we get some time away from the ongoing slots hearings. I’d appreciate your assessments; Ed Delaney is first out of the gate with his, below.

In the meantime, read Steven Pearlstein’s column in the business section of today’s Post ( Pearlstein is a supporter of the stadium boondoggle, but a clear-sighted one. He quickly cuts to the truth of both ballpark financing and rapidly escalating property taxes. On property taxes: “The Big Lie here is that the tax rate used in calculating property tax bills has mystical qualities that require it to remain unchanged from year to year. In fact, as any textbook on municipal finance will tell you, the tax rate is simply the number you get when you take the amount of money you want to spend on municipal services and divide it by the total assessed value of the property to be taxed. So if assessed values go up 20 percent a year on average, as they have been lately, at a tax rate of one dollar per hundred dollars of assessed home value, anything less than a 16.7 percent reduction in the tax rate is a tax increase. Rather than reduce rates, however, most local politicians prefer to use gimmicks like tax caps, income tax rebates and higher homestead exemptions to give the appearance of tax relief and frugality while getting credit for expanding services.” As Ed Cowan wrote in the March 9 issue of themail, homeowners should be advocating a reduced property tax rate.

And here’s Pearlstein on ballpark financing: “You can debate whether you’d prefer one source of revenue for this project or another, and whether they amount to ‘private’ or ‘public’ financing. But in the end, all of them, including the mayor’s plan, involve borrowing $500 million to be repaid from a stream of anticipated revenues from individuals and businesses. And all of them indirectly subsidize the millionaires of Major League Baseball.” That is the bottom line, isn’t it?

Gary Imhoff


Sham of Ballpark’s Private Financing Options Almost Played Out
Ed Delaney,

Http:// “‘There’s nothing on the table that we can’t do ourselves,’ said Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, echoing a statement he has made for months. ‘That’s the answer. There’s no real private money to be had, and I think more people are finally understanding that.’” It’s not for a lack of trying, right, Evans? Oh wait, maybe it is for a lack of trying, especially considering Linda Cropp had to grind the rubber-stamping party at the Wilson Building to a stop at the end of last year to get private financing even remotely considered as an option. Of course, the baseball brigade knew they could just reject these proposals once they secured the supposed “last-resort” clause that put DC and only DC on the hook for the entire stadium cost, regardless of overruns and/or shortfalls associated with the project, which will house a private business entity that is also part of a monopoly.

“Gandhi’s initial review of eight offers of private financing eliminated six bids, five of which sought to gain real estate development rights near the stadium. The offers were rejected in part because of concern the District could not legally gain land in the ballpark area through eminent domain and then transfer it to a private entity without competitive bidding.” How dare there be such pesky laws that prevent the mayor and his baseball brigade from doling out sweetheart deals to private entities without a competitive bidding process! How’s a developer ever going to make ends meet with this sort of interference?

“The decision proved a major disappointment for Georgetown developer Herb Miller, whose plan for a massive retail and residential development near the ballpark had won many fans within the John A. Wilson Building.” What a shame, especially since this ballpark is going to be a major disappointment to the people who will lose their homes and the business owners who will be displaced by the stadium, not to mention District taxpayers who are on the hook for this project whose cost has spiraled ever upward.


Visual Blight: ABC Licensee’s Broken Windows
Phil Carney,

Trio Restaurant’s Fox and Hounds Bar is located on the 1500 block of Seventeenth Street, NW. Last week a large portion of their front window was broken. A week later, the window remains unrepaired. In fairness to the owner, he is currently busy with expanding his restaurant outside and into public space licensed for use to another business, the now defunct Trio Pizza and Sub Shop. The owner has chosen to give priority to improperly grabbing public space licensed to another business rather than! be a good neighbor and repair the window damage.

Please be aware that in the same block J R’s Bar has had broken windows-some boarded over and one large window unreplaced for about four years! After fighting a unnecessarily divisive neighborhood battle to expand into that adjacent building, the owner of JR’s Bar has chosen to show his attitude toward our Dupont Circle neighborhood and city by leaving the building abandoned and by leaving the broken windows either unrepaired or boarded over.

Does Trio’s Bar intend to join JR’s Bar and never replace their broken windows?


What About Expanding the Amount of Time in School?
Richard Layman,

Ted Knutson asks [themail, March 13]: “if youth crime goes up on days when the schools are closed for snow (or the prediction of snow)?” How about being concerned about the reduction in opportunity to learn? One way to “reduce youth crime,” and more importantly to expand the community’s capacity to learn and grow, would be to expand the school year. If the average DC student starts off behind, let’s provide more time in school (N.B., I do understand that more of the same things not working isn’t necessarily better, but I have hopes that the curricular changes that are coming will be positive).

Suggestion One: how about a 210 or 220 day school year instead of 180 days? What better way to demonstrate DC’s commitment to K-12 education? Suggestion Two: consider adopting a year-round school calendar. This could have at least three benefits, one that Ted would find of interest. 1) better utilization of school facilities that would require fewer school buildings overall; 2) elimination of the 2.5 month long summer break, which is a period where youth crime does increase; and 3) helping improve learning outcomes by reducing the time required for catch up and review in each subsequent year.


Fire Code Violations and Complaints Against the Police
Bryce A. Suderow,

A week ago this Tuesday I stopped by SE Branch Library and spoke to the head of the branch. She told me maintenance people had been worked there steadily the previous week, addressing the fire code violations (after my letter to themail appeared [March 2]). She denied that my letter had caused the work. She also denied that fire inspectors had cited the library several times, something I heard the inspector say with my own ears. Anyhow, I think my letter caused the library system to fix the safety code violations at SE, so I’m happy.

In reply to Selina Musuta’s posting [themail, March 9] about the effect of complaints on the conduct of the police. I don’t know what you do when you’re faced with a dysfunctional police department. About ten years ago, a firm called Booz-Allen did a study of the MPD. They found that 10 percent of the cops did most of the arrests. The rest of the cops did little or nothing.

I, as well as you, have had cops refuse to take reports or complaints. I suspect many of us have. It makes me angry when they do that because I realize they don’t want to do their job. On the other hand, the captains, inspectors, and commanders in the MPD have for about twenty years penalized officers who have complaints in their files — they simply have a hard time getting promoted. My former PSA sergeant, Diane Groomes, was held back for many years because Commander McManus didn’t like the fact that drug dealers and their friends had lodged complaints against her. At an award ceremony for her and other outstanding officers, he leaned over and told her, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire. There wouldn’t be all these complaints against you if you weren’t doing something wrong.”


A Simple Solution
Ed T. Barron, edtb@aoldotcom

Since there is a big difference in price of diesel fuel and home heating oil, and they are the same basic petroleum product, it would be quite easy to hook up a hand pump to the home heating oil tank in one’s home to pump that oil right into your diesel powered automobile. One would only have to add a small additive during the winter months to prevent fuel gelling when the temps got well below freezing. Probably not legal.


Unwanted Examiners
Anne-Marie Bairstow,

One of our wonderful neighbors did some research and found out that you can stop the delivery of the new Washington Examiner, for either a short time or permanently, by calling their circulation department at 1-800-531-1223 or sending an E-mail to I haven’t tried this myself, and there was an article in the Washington Post about folks in Arlington who’d called repeatedly but were still getting it delivered.


Stopping Examiner Delivery
Ann Carper, rochester54 at

I’m with Steven Levy on the unwanted delivery of this paper. My E-mail on March 14 to didn’t have any effect, so today (March 16) I called 800-531-1223 and asked to have it stopped. We’ll see. (Both means of contact are provided in the paper under “Questions about circulation and delivery?”)


More Unwanted Examiners
Henry Townsend,

I tried not picking up the rag, in hopes that the carrier would take the hint as they piled up. No luck. But in my neighborhood, in the east of Georgetown, they now have a box with free newspapers, and they’ve stopped delivery. Good riddance.


Washington Post Vacation Delivery Service
Vivian W. Henderson.

I would like to know from Steven E Levy how he got the Post to stop delivery during his vacation. My last two times away from DC have been a disaster. I put the request in to stop delivery two weeks in advance, and the papers just kept coming. A neighbor saw them on my front yard and picked them up. To make a long story short, while she was picking up the papers from my front, her car was stolen. We have lived in this city since 1939, and have always been Post readers, but have decided that the next time we go on vacation, we will discontinue the delivery service. What a shame. The Washington Post offers a service that they do not provide.


Colonoscopy Advice Follow-Up
Phil Shapiro,

Thanks to those on this list who asked for further information about colonoscopies. I’ve posted some notes on the web at, and will expand those notes based on further questions I receive — or other things I think of that would be useful for people to know. Thanks for alerting people you care about regarding the existence of this info. I bet you were not expecting to become a colonoscopy expert when you signed up to receive I had no idea you would, either. I reckon that while we’re gathered here we’re either helping each other or we’re not.

I was going to write a feature-length article about this topic for the Washington Post health section. I made some progress on that last year but, let me tell you, writing a feature length article for a major city newspaper is far less comfortable than having a colonosopy. The back and forth that can go on with an editor makes having a laxative seem like a joy.


March 2005 InTowner
Peter Wolff,

This is to advise that the March 2005 on-line edition has been uploaded and may be accessed at Included are the lead stories, community news items and crime reports, editorials (including prior months’ archived), restaurant reviews (prior months’ also archived), and the text from the ever-popular “Scenes from the Past” feature. Also included are all current classified ads. The complete issue (along with prior issues back to March 2002) also is available in PDF file format directly from our home page at no charge simply by clicking the link provided. Here you will be able to view the entire issue as it appears in print, including all photos and advertisements. The next issue will publish on April 8 (the 2nd Friday of the month, as always). The complete PDF version will be posted by the preceding night or early that Friday morning at the latest, following which the text of the lead stories, community news, and selected features will be uploaded shortly thereafter.

To read this month’s lead stories, simply click the link on the home page to the following headlines: 1) “Harris Teeter Project Ribbon Cutting PR Event Focused on Invited Audience — Affected Residents Unaware Beforehand”; 2) “Dupont Circle Historic District Hearing Raising Policy Issues Seen as Troubling”; 3) “Tree Removals from Private Property Now Restricted — Community Must be Informed.”



DC Vote Betty Benefit
Joe Libertelli,

Do you support voting rights for DC residents? DC School of Law Foundation Vice President Daniel Solomon has asked me to invite you to a DC Vote benefit performance by Betty this Thursday, March 17, at Theater J, 1529 16th Street, NW (at Q Street, NW). Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Dessert reception follows the performance. Tickets for this DC Vote benefit performance are $25.. Purchase your tickets through — they’re cheaper than at the box office.

Join DC Vote for a special benefit performance of Betty Rules. Betty member are Elizabeth Ziff, Alyson Palmer, and Amy Ziff. There’s no place quite like DC, and no band quite like Betty! Having dazzled the crowds in New York and Chicago with their voices, songs and comedy, this group of DC natives is coming home to the nation’s capital. Betty, the trio, portray themselves in this tell-all tale of their rock-and-rollercoaster ride from a basement in suburban Washington, DC, to cult diva status. If you can’t attend but want to support us, make a donation to DC Vote.

Betty Rules: The Exception to the Musical takes a fast-paced tour of the band’s history, featuring hilarious comic vignettes and songs that blend rock-and-roll with some of the tightest three-part harmonies you’ll ever hear. Creating awareness of the movement to bring American democracy to America’s capital, DC Vote is thrilled to have Betty among its supporters and is excited to share this evening with the DC community.


Mendelson Tax Assessment Meetings, March 17, 19, 22, 23, 24
Alexander Evans,

Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) will hold a set of six tax assessment meetings throughout the District over the next two weeks. The meetings are designed answer residents questions about the tax assessment process, the tax appeal process, and deductions they may qualify for. Representatives from the Office of Tax and Revenue will accompany Mendelson at each of the meetings. This is the third consecutive year Mendelson has held such meetings throughout the city.

Thursday, March 17, 7:00 p.m., for Observatory Circle, Glover Park, and Spring Valley, at Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW.

Saturday March 19, 11:00 a.m., for Trinidad and Old City, at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, 660 K Street, NE.

Tuesday March 22, 7:00 p.m., for Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, at Greater Washington Urban League, 2901 14th Street, NW.

Wednesday March 23, 7:00 p.m., for Brookland, Woodridge, and Eckington, at Washington Center for Aging, 2601 18th Street, NE.

Thursday March 24, 6:30 p.m., for Crestwood, 16th St. Heights, Petworth, Takoma Park, Brightwood, and Shepherd Park, at Jewish Primary Day School, 6045 16th Street, NW.

Saturday, March 26, 11:00 a.m., for Hillcrest, Anacostia, and Fort Dupont Park, at Luther Church of the Holy Comforter, 3319 Alabama Avenue, SE


Americans for Democratic Action, March 18
Martin Casas,

You are invited to join Americans for Democratic Action, Greater Washington Chapter, campaign kickoff event. Join your fellow liberals on the eve of the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with congressional representatives Barney Frank and Eleanor Holmes Norton, and DC Councilman Adrian Fenty. Hear them talk about the effects the war has had on the District of Columbia, the nation, and the importance of being a liberal in today’s America, and how you can help.

Friday, March 18, 6-8 p.m., Hawk and Dove Bar and Restaurant, 629 Pennsylvania Avenue, NE. Two blocks toward the Capitol from Eastern Market Metro. Start your weekend off right and ease into the night after a late night from St. Patrick’s Day! Help us keep liberalism safe! RSVP: or call 716-1585 to learn more about ADA,


Creating Home Page Content with Impact, March 19
Barbara Conn, bconn at cpcug dot org

Merry Bruns of ScienceSites Communications will demonstrate home page content techniques that can give your web site visitors the right first impression. Do you know how much text you should have on your home page? How should you organize it? Should the layout be packed with links, or clean and simple? What kind of language should you use? And, more important, how can you get people to act once they’ve read it? Home page content has to reach a wide variety of readers, and it must be grasped at a glance.

Gather your friends, colleagues, and family members and bring them to the Saturday, March 19, 1:00 p.m. (check-in: 12:45 p.m.), TechTalk of the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group (E&C SIG). This free TechTalk will be at the Cleveland Park Library (1st Floor Large Meeting Room) at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, just over a block from the Cleveland Park Metrorail Station on the Red Line. For more information about this TechTalk, the speaker, CPCUG (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization), and to register for the event, visit


American Furniture of the Federal Period, April 7, 14, 21, 28
Masha Raj,

American Furniture of the Federal Period, 1790-1840, a lecture series by Dr. Oscar Fitzgerald, will be held on Thursdays, April 7, 14, 21, and 28, at 7:00-8:00 p.m. (registration and light refreshments at 6:00 p.m.), at Dumbarton House, 2715 Q Street, NW. April 7: A Background in Neoclassicism, April 14: The Early Federal Style (1790-1810), April 21: The Late Federal Style (1810-1830) and The Late Empire Style (1830-1850), and April 28: Is it Real? Identification of Furniture Fakes. Fee per lecture: $20/person ($15/students); entire series: $65/person ($50/students). Register by April 1. Please call 337-2288, x222, to register or to receive more information.

In the early years of the new Republic, classical principles of design derived from ancient Greece and Rome were given their purest form of expression in the style of furniture we now call Federal. Its striking beauty and simplicity of form distinguish Federal furniture as one of the most celebrated styles among American collectors. This series of lectures, presented by Dr. Oscar Fitzgerald, will explain the origins, evolution, regional variations, and connoisseurship of Federal period furniture.

Dr. Oscar Fitzgerald is a well known historian, author, lecturer and consultant on American and European decorative arts and architecture. Retired as the director of the Navy Museum in Washington, DC, he continues to serve as curator for Tingey House, an early 19th century, Federal style, mansion in the historic Washington Navy Yard. He frequently conducts survey courses and workshops at the Smithsonian Institution and has organized a number of special programs there. Most recently Dr. Fitzgerald was awarded a prestigious James Renwick Fellowship to research a new book on the history of the contemporary studio furniture field.



Oven and Refrigerator
Elizabeth Buchanan,

We’re renovating our kitchen and would like to donate a electric range/oven and refrigerator to a nonprofit organization. The range/oven is in great condition. the refrigerator works well, but is esthetically challenged. If we can’t do that, we’d be happy to give the items to anyone who will pay to have them delivered. Both items will be available in April.

Please E-mail me at if you are interested or have any leads on nonprofits.


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